Posted by: bklunk | June 13, 2007

Time Waits For No One

Well, it has only been 28 years since the Vietnamese invasion that brought down the Khmer Rouge. It is hard to think of a country as devastated by war and violence as Cambodia. The extent of international support required for Cambodia to get this far has been remarkable.

JURIST – Paper Chase: Khmer Rouge tribunal judges adopt internal court rules
Judges of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official website] said Wednesday that they have unanimously adopted [press release, PDF] internal rules for the ECCC following the conclusion of a two-week meeting that convened [JURIST reports] on May 31. The judges said the new rules would facilitate “fair, transparent trials before an independent and impartial court.” The rules are designed to integrate Cambodian law with the structure of the UN-Cambodian hybrid court, and cover a range of issues, including establishing the burden of proof for a conviction at the beyond reasonable doubt standard, and allowing victims to join lawsuits as civil parties, but without the right to obtain individual financial compensation. In addition, the ECCC will guarantee that defendants have “an effective team of Co-Lawyers, one Cambodian and one foreign.” Prosecution teams will also be structured in the same manner.

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Responses

  1. I think it’s really cool how the UN sets up the courts in events like this. There is really a desire to legitimize the countries own judicial power and give the country its sovereignty while acknowledging that it is part of the international system. I think sometimes I get the feeling that it just takes to long to get the courts started and prosecute, and that the potency of the court is lost with age. But still, the fact that they are doing this still shows a really strong international desire for justice- which I think is always good.

    The ability to seek justice internationally, yet retain countries sovereignty is a really awesome.

  2. I agree with Matt that the point of hybrid courts is to legitimize the state’s own judicial body and acknowledging a state’s sovereignty. But I would like to add a couple points. First, the point of hybrid courts is not just to legitimize the state’s own judicial body, but most of the time it’s purpose is to create a body of law in the state. There are times when hybrid courts are created in a part of the world there is no body of law and little infrastructure. Secondly, hybrid courts can deliver justice in an efficient and adequate time frame. This means that a hybrid can end quickly and the state or region of the world that had the tribunal can move on and put the conflict behind them. Thirdly, a hybrid tribunal allows the citizens and victims of the state to see justice being handed down. This will create a greater respect for the law and may have a spillover effect; meaning that these citizens would want these legal institutions in their state.

    However, I think critics of international law will point out the effectiveness of these courts. Like Professor Klunk said these atrocities happened about 28 years ago and the court is barely being set up know. Furthermore, the ECCC was created in 2001(according to the Jurist). This means that it took six years to combine Cambodian and international law and solve other disputes between Cambodia and the UN.

  3. Not much to say here. If you look at the ECCC website, the FAQ page has an explanation for why it took so long to establish the court. The explanation is (a) it took a long time to finish the war and (b) it took a long time to agree on the court. Let’s grant them the first point. The civil war lasted until 1998. The 9-year delay after that has most to do with a corrupt Cambodian government that doesn’t do much unless the top officials can personally profit.


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